Can Old Fiberglass Tanks Be Recycled?

Old fiberglass tank to be recycled

Fiberglass has been around since the 1930s and is constructed using either brand-new or recycled glass to achieve an adaptable and durable material that can then be used to construct a variety of useful things, including storage tanks. Fiberglass-reinforced plastic tanks are employed in a number of industries including agriculture, waste management, septic, chemical and oil and gas. These reliable tanks are built to last, but once they no longer meet regulations and need to be replaced, can you recycle the old fiberglass tanks?

Fiberglass, the Pros and Cons

To understand if it can be recycled, first, it’s important to know what fiberglass is made out of. To create the material, fibers of glass are tightly woven and strung together. That fiberglass is then woven or chopped and mixed with a solution of resin and other chemicals, formed and shaped to become sturdy FRP tanks that are corrosion-resistant. These tanks can be customized to fit your unique worksite requirements and can be made to be housed above or below ground. FRP are sought after for their high durability, strength-to-weight ratio and the lifespan these tanks are able to provide if kept in good shape.

So Can Fiberglass Be Recycled?

The short answer in most cases is unfortunately no. It’s an expensive endeavour to attempt to recycle FRP as it takes industrial equipment to properly break down or incinerate the pieces. This makes it next to impossible to actually recycle the fiberglass. But if there isn’t access to this type of machinery, fiberglass is typically broken into small pieces and transported and disposed of in landfills. Some countries are prioritizing the breakdown and recycling of fiberglass and some of their methods include incineration, grinding and pyrolysis.

Other Ways To Use Recycled Fiberglass

Instead of taking the ground-down material to the landfill, the fiberglass-reinforced plastic pieces from a storage tank can be used as a filler component in cement and if the FRP is ground into milled fibers, it can be used in the construction of other products, such as outdoor furniture. The tanks can also be repurposed for water storage for fire water or burned as fuel in incinerators. These are just some of the ways companies and individuals are working towards recycling of these unrecyclable materials.

Plastic takes thousands of years to degrade. Every plastic item on the planet will be here for the next several hundred or even several thousand years, so it’s important we continue to develop ways to properly recycle or reuse things like fiberglass-reinforced plastics. Countries like Germany, the United States, France and Denmark are working on large-scale recycling plants for materials like fiberglass, but the way it’s constructed now makes fiberglass-reinforced plastic nearly impossible to truly recycle. We are always working towards new ways to lessen the environmental impact and we hope to see Canada begin to dive into the development of these recycling operations!

Request a quote today or give us a call at (306)-329-4884 and we’ll help you get started on your next underground storage project!

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